How To: Clean Your Brushes The RIGHT Way

How was your weekend? Have you been glued to the tv for the Olympics? This weekend I got to go canoeing at the site of the 1996 Olympics--if you follow me on Instagram (ellesees) you got to see the pics.
Something else I've done lately was browse Pinterest. I kept seeing pins for cleaning brushes and the info was just wrong! Soak for 30 minutes? Dry brushes upright? Clean with oil? After seeing pin after pin, I knew I had to share with you my guaranteed methods for getting brushes clean. This works with the cheapest brushes to expensive ones.


M E T H O D  1: Spot Clean

  • Use this method if you're limited with the amount of brushes you have. For instance, when I want to use that same brush with a different color, I'll spot clean. This is not a thorough cleaning
  • One way is to wipe the brush back and forth on a paper towel/tissue/towel to remove the shadow.
  • To quickly disinfect and spot clean brushes, either buy a spot cleaner (these range from around $3-$20) or make your own. Of course you know I'm a DIY kinda girl. Pour a about an ounce of rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle. Add about a half ounce of water and shake. Spray onto cloth/paper towel/tissue and then wipe brush until clean.
M E T H O D 2: Thorough Cleansing
  • Brushes definitely need to be thoroughly cleaned to help prevent buildup and infections. If you use shadow at home daily, do this weekly.
  • Again, you can purchase brush shampoos (ELF makes a great one for $3), but I like to use baby shampoo. It's not as harsh as regular shampoo or dish detergent. 
  • Put a towel next to the sink. You'll use this to dry your brushes.
  • Pour a little water and shampoo in the palm of your hand and swirl the brush into the mix.
  • Swirl until clean.
  • Rinse under water and swirl brush onto towel to help remove water.
  • Store brushes lying down and let them dry overnight.

R E M I N D E R S:
  • Alcohol dries fast and works as a disinfectant, but it's drying, so use only as a spot cleaner/disinfectant.
  • Drying the brushes upright promotes bacterial growth and weakens your brushes, so please place them flat. 
  • Olive oil is a popular cleaning method, and while it can it moisturize brushes, I've found that it just doesn't work. Brushes just don't get clean. Avoid it.
  • Expensive brushes are an investment, so treat them well! I have brushes that are five years old and work great because I wash my brushes. I hope you do the same!
  • If you use your brushes with liquid foundation/bb creams, you may have to repeat your method until thoroughly cleaned.
  • How do I store my brushes? Check out my DIY BRUSH HOLDER--just like Sephora!

How do YOU store and clean your brushes?


  1. AWESOME!!! I definitely need to do this more as I am NOT good at it. But I love that you have so many tips! Sadly... the first time I cleaned a brush i just put it in a dishwasher (I know... I know) and it was horrible. haha, I had no clue about the shampoo trick!!

    I store my brushes in toothbrush holders, works like a charm! And (unlike the brushes), those actually ARE machine washable.

  2. You have a lot of little things there to tickle with.

  3. after reading this I also realise that I have been misinformed, thanks for the correct tips!

  4. i've clean and store my brushes the exact way as you. i i also sort of tilt my brushes downwards when drying as advised by someone (can't remember who) because they said that water will break down the glue so by tilting your brushes downwards (bristles pointing downwards), the water drips away from the handle/glue area.

  5. Great cleaning tip! Baby shampoo - makes sense if you think about it

  6. I'm glad you posted this today, because this is a project I need to tackle. And it looks so easy. Once a week? I fail.

  7. Great advice on how to clean brushes! I use baby shampoo, too, and dry them the way you do. I've never spot cleaned with alcohal, though. I like your brush organizer idea. I keep mine in a cosmetic back, but your idea is kind of nice!

  8. Beautiful! I use cleansing shampoo from Mac but I bought these little covers so you can dry them the other way around, they said it reduces bacteria and since I was having a major issue with zits then I thought it was a clever idea but it turns out too expensive... sniff sniff.

  9. i only have a few brushes, but your post reminds me that i haven´t cleaned them for a while now!
    thanks to you i know what i will be doing later! :-)

  10. thanks for tip. I am the worst when it comes to cleaning my brushes. I am always forgetting.

  11. Great advice! I definitely need to remember to at least spot clean my brushes more often!

  12. I have some spray stuff that I must put on it...

  13. Thanks for the reminder! I still have some brush cleaner from Mac when I used a gift card and it works pretty well. I would add that you need to wash pretty thoroughly if it's a thick brush too!

    Chic 'n Cheap Living

  14. Great tips! And love the DIY brush holder!


  15. I usually use just plain alcohol. I'm going to try your tricks :)

  16. These are some great tips, I never even thought of baby shampoo. Have to try it.

  17. I use baby shampoo too! I clean my brushes pretty regularly and I'm always surprised when people don't. It's so easy and makes the brushes last so much longer! Thank you for sharing these tips!

  18. Great tutorial! I'm glad I'm doing it right!

  19. awesome post! i will def be trying your tips ;)

    i'll def be back! follow me back?


  20. Um, I could have used this years ago! I'm terrible at cleaning my brushes....which is probably why they don't last long! Thanks for the tip :)

  21. Oh my - I definitely need to clean my brushes. Thanks for the DIY tips!



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